So, I’m an avid Pinterest-er when it comes to everything in my life: recipes, decor, crafting, geeky loveliness, and of course, Kindergarten! Seriously, I’m well over 12,000 pins…
In my constant Pinterest visits I started seeing calming bottles. Obviously I was intrigued and began investigating the how’s and why’s of calming bottles.
Let’s be honest….I looked way more into the how’s than the why’s. I already knew the why’s of the calming bottles, why they were helpful for some kids. I had a little Kindersmarten last year that had some self-regulation issues and using something similar to these calming bottles was one of the ways we helped him regulate. But if you want more information on how calming bottles are effective, this was one of many great blogs I found the positive effects of calming bottles.
In my searches I found a bajillion different ways to make calming bottles (literally so many different ways…which makes me wonder a little why I’m doing this particular blog post…
But, I love my calming bottles, so I’m going to do a wee post about it anyways just in case someone needs it!
The quick and dirty about how to make calming bottles (and what not to do because I did it and it failed):
What you need:
- a plastic water bottle. I used two different types – one from IKEA and the VOSS water bottle (plastic). While the IKEA bottle is stronger, I personally like the look of the VOSS bottles (probably because those are the ones I see all over Pinterest).
- baby oil (so many different sites stated mineral oil – which made me think it was something that would be hard to get…nope. It’s baby oil). I buy the generic brand (but try to get it on sale, because it’s around $4-$5 a bottle, and usually you need 1 1/3 bottles of oil for one calming bottle).
- candy colouring – this is so important! Do not be like me and think that the colour gel I use to colour icing will work. It will not. Neither will food colouring. It will sink to the bottom of your bottle and you will waste oil and colouring in the process. Don’t do it. You need candy colouring (you can find it on Amazon or at Michaels in the cake decorating section – but make sure it says candy colours). If you want to have a bottle with oil and water – you can use food colouring for that (I’ll explain more later in the post). A box of candy colouring costs around $6 and goes a long way. Just buy the stuff you need. More than likely, if you make one bottle you will want to make another one…it’s like the book “If you give a mouse a cookie”…if you make one calming bottle, you will want to make more!
- Heavy duty glue – I like the E6000 glue you can find at Michaels. I have heard of people using hot glue, but I don’t trust it – as I know how easily you can pull dried hot glue off of plastic.
- Toothpicks – to help add the colouring (you may also want rubber gloves…unless you want multi-coloured hands).
- GLITTER!!! The glitter, in my opinion, is what helps make the bottles interesting. I am a crafter and Kindergarten teacher, so I have a plethora of different types of glitter. Different sizes/weights of glitter settle at different rates and make the bottles more mesmerizing.
- Shaped confetti – this isn’t a must, but it is helpful! In my bins of random crap I discovered I had a bunch of shaped confetti which I inherited from my mom (from themed parties over the last 30+ years). You can find this stuff at the dollar store at a party store, or if you’re looking for something really specific, Amazon! It’s great if you want to make the bottle a little more exciting.
- Paper towel…just in cases 😉
Actually making the Calming Bottles:
- Prepare your bottles. If you are using a water bottle, make sure it is dry on the inside and that you’ve taken the labels off (if there’s residue, try using goof off or goo be gone to get rid of the stickiness).
- Pour oil into bottles 3/4 of the way
- Add colouring, a little bit at a time using a tooth pick to get it into the bottle. I usually put the lid back on and shake the bottle up to mix the colours until I’m happy with the colour (I tend to make it a wee bit darker than I want, because I will add more oil after the next step).
- Add glitters!! I like to use a variety of different sizes of glitter because, as I said earlier, they settle differently. I almost always add a really fine translucent glitter because it’s really pretty! You can also add your shaped confetti at this point.
- Add more oil – almost up to the top of the bottle.
- This part can be a little tricky…you need to clean off the outside rim of the bottle and the inside rim of the lid – aka where the glue goes, without spilling it all over yourself (hence paper towel being on the materials list).
- Glue your lid on! When it comes to glue, I feel the more the better!
- Let dry – I usually let them dry over night before I let my students at them!
A word of caution!! If these break/open there will be an EPIC MESS! So, I always tell my kids they are to hold them with two hands, they must be sitting down or standing over a table, and NO throwing them! I’ve been very fortunate that none of mine have broken, but I know that another teacher who made them with her class and one broke**. So, if you make these, please use them with caution and talk to your students about the appropriate use of the calming bottles.
**I think they may used hot glue to seal their bottles and the one that broke was being thrown between two students… don’t do that….it’s not a good idea!
I’ve made a ton of these bottles now – for my classroom and for co-workers and they are so fun! I’ve done holiday themed ones, seasonal ones, and some special order ones (a co-worker wanted a green and gold bottle for the Packers fan in their life). I’ve also made some with just clear oil and letter beads in them for a morning tub letter hunt.
Colour Mixing Bottles:
I also colour mixing bottles to compliment our study of colour for our science unit. Those didn’t turn out exactly how I had hoped (equal amounts of of red and yellow in this case did not make orange – more like orangish red and my purple is really dark when you shake it up for some reason), but my students are fascinated by them, and it’s a great conversation about colour mixing!
These bottles were a LOT more work than the other bottles. There was a lot of trial and error (and the necessity for a turkey baster when things went sideways (not surprisingly, I happened to have a turkey baster in the classroom…if you ever need a weird thing, ask a Kindergarten teacher).
To make the colour mixing bottles you need:
- water bottles
- candy colouring
- food colouring
- baby oil
- containers for mixing
- the patience of a saint 🙂
Making these bottles is a great lesson in liquid density! Not to go into any major details, but your oil colours will always be at the top and your water colours will be at the bottom – which is good to remember, as you will need to mix you water colours outside of the bottle. If I were to make these again, I would make sure to have the strong colours (aka the red) in the oil only – I had to use a turkey baster to get the water colour red out of my orange bottle and it made a massive mess!!
For my bottles, I was out of yellow food colouring, so I had to make that with the oil and candy colour. I mixed water in 2 separate jars with red food colouring and blue food colouring and added them to the 2 bottles in which I had already made the yellow oil (the red and yellow bottle was the one that I needed to suction out the water out of). I put the lids on, did a shake test and when I was happy with the colour, I glued the lids on!
I have to say, something went a little hinky with the purple bottle. I’m not sure if there was something in the bottle (they were dry as far as I could tell) but the colour mixed very oddly in that bottle…reminded me of the animation you often see when you’re learning about blood cells. The green bottle was the one that ended up looking the best!
I wish I had a way to do this that was easier, but honestly it was a lot of things not going as planned and mess!! If you want to make colour mixing bottles go for it, just maybe try making a few regular calming bottles first – so you get the hang of it!
And that’s it…another blog about Calming Bottles!
Hopefully you will find my trial and error/tips helpful!
Thanks for reading